United Kingdom

Pensioner caused £36k damage to neighbour's cars in six years

A pensioner who repeatedly damaged his neighbour's cars, over a six-year period causing £36,000 worth of damage, has been handed a suspended sentence.

Michael Steward, 65, persistently damaged his neighbour, accountant John Huggins' car, after the pair had a verbal argument six years ago.     

Steward of Constitution Hill, Norwich, appeared at Norwich Crown Court yesterday after pleading guilty to two counts of criminal damage whilst asking for 14 others to be taken into consideration.

He was sentenced to a total of nine months suspended for 18 months and ordered to pay £7,800 of compensation. 

Following an investigation in which officers covertly monitored Steward's movements, he was identified as the main suspect and in a subsequent search of his home, a saw used during the final incident was seized (Steward seen here on CCTV)

The court heard how the first incidents began in 2014 when Mr Huggins, 66, reported having his Volvo damaged on several separate occasions during the night.

The random attacks included having sealant foam sprayed into the exhaust pipe, gluing doors shut and removing car door handles outside his home in Norwich, Norfolk.

As a result, the Volvo was considered a write off and Mr Huggins was forced to replace this with a Hyundai I30.

The attacks continued - often with months passing between.

Further incidents included having offensive language sprayed on his front garden wall and back-garden fence.

The final incident was reported to police in September 2019 in which the victim's CCTV showed the suspect using a saw to carve every panel on the passenger side of the vehicle.

Michael Steward,  (pictured)  persistently damaged his neighbour, accountant John Huggins' car, after the pair had a verbal argument six years ago

Following an investigation in which officers covertly monitored Steward's movements, he was identified as the main suspect and in a subsequent search of his home, a saw used during the final incident was seized.

He was later arrested and questioned and admitted to some of the offences. 

John Huggins said: 'Michael Steward's hateful vendetta has put our family through six years of hell; we are grateful for the help from the many police officers involved in bringing this person to justice.'

Michael Steward was sentenced to a total of nine months suspended for 18 months and ordered to pay £7,800 of compensation

PC Steve Jones said: 'Steward has persistently targeted Mr Huggins and his family over the past six years which has caused a considerable amount of strain on their health and wellbeing.

'They have had to write off two cars due to the extent of damage which has had an immense impact on the family not just financially, but also physically and emotionally.

'We are glad that we could help to provide the Huggins family, who have been incredibly cooperative, with some closure.'

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